The festive season is a time of overindulgence in all things good. It’s the one time of the year when it’s OK to loosen up on self-discipline and let go of diets, fitness regimes and frugality. Overindulgence doesn’t come without side effects, however. Tucking into a massive meal of rich food accompanied by generous servings of alcohol feels very satisfying at the time but can leave the body in a sorry state. There can be too much of a good thing. Overindulgence in food and drink is something that is generally regretted afterwards, however the effects are not long lasting.
It’s a different story with overindulging in spending. The regrets of having spent too much, especially when the spending is funded by debt, can be very long lasting.
Part of the problem at this time of the year is that it is tempting to borrow as much as lenders will make available. In a society where being in debt is the norm, people are inclined to ask themselves not “how much can I afford to spend?’ but “how much can I borrow?” A lender is not concerned about the financial health of an individual borrower. Lenders work on averages. They know that a certain percentage of people will default on borrowing and they factor that in to the cost of borrowing. Their lending guidelines are not based on what is financially prudent for the borrower but on the maximum amount of financial stress borrowers can incur without leading to an excessive number of defaults. Lenders can and do push people to the limit. That’s how they make money.
While it’s nice to be presented with a smorgasbord of increased credit card limits, store cards and personal loans, overindulging in debt has a much longer lasting effect than a big Christmas dinner.